The Suck: #1 Burning Wheel Skype

The game has been going pretty well. Jim and I fell into an age-old pattern we have where his character get’s into trouble, way-way over his head and than plays the various powers against one another in an attempt to come out on top. Rich is right there with us now and it only took a few sessions for him to get his feet under him.

So, we’re into the second arc. The orcs have returned to the Broken Mountains, homeland to the orcs, to find that Rich’s character’s father has been driven into deep tunnels by an army of giant spiders.

And I heard myself say, “What do you want to do now?”

“How about now?”

“And now?”

I had no aggressive scene framing-fu at all. I was, as the GM, not contributing shit. I should’ve stopped, tossed some snow down my shirt and/or had the players read their Beliefs out loud again. I’ve got these two ambitious, brutal orcs with passions and hatred in their guts and I’ve got nothing to say.

If re-visiting the character sheets didn’t work I should’ve just cut the game short and admitted that I was just too tired to GM.

But I pushed on and GMed the most tepid session in years and years.

I e-mailed the guys and told them that I thought the game was suck and that it would be better next time.

Man, it is hard to write up experiences about games that suck. When you write about a game that is fun, you get to kind of re-live a touch of that fun and figure out what made it fun and celebrate each other. But suck is hard; its hard not to condemn anyone (including yourself) and just definitely not fun.

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14 thoughts on “The Suck: #1 Burning Wheel Skype

  1. You know, next time I play BW, I plan on having everyone’s Beliefs on index cards in front of me. Just as much as a R-Map/Conflict Web works like a visual “Hey! Lookit that connection!”, I plan on using the cards as the primary go-to for scene framing.

    A lot of times, I think we forget the value of the physical token as a reminder, as something to fiddle with and let our subconscious kick in on occassion, etc.

  2. Written down in front of me.

    I had a Thinkature page set up with the world map, setting notes, NPC names and a tab for Beliefs and Instincts but fell out of using it.

    Yeah, writing them down and having that info on a clip board in front of me is really important.

    • Re: Written down in front of me.

      The other part for me, is that if I have the beliefs on cards, I can move them around, put conflicting ones next to each other on the table, move them as the situation changes, or even just to experiment.

        • Re: Written down in front of me.

          I’ve been thinking a lot about how we build tools into games.

          Right now, a lot of games work in a very simple way- “This is the Conflict List- look at this list, pick a conflict” etc. kind of stuff. If you get how to use it, it works, but it’s usually ver connect-the-dot-sy kind of way, and if you’re not “on” that night, things could fall apart.

          What I’m looking at is how do we build new tools, or further develop the ones we have to get the right brain to work – so that even if we’re not consciously “on”, maybe the subconscious can pick up the slack or at least drop more inspiration into the mix.

          So list of beliefs? I have to consciously think about which ones connect. Cards of beliefs? I can shuffle them and pull them out- most of it will be random crap, but the human mind is good at drawing patterns and relationships- I might put together two I would have never thought of consciously- so it’s an option if I’m coming up dry on ideas.

          • Re: Written down in front of me.

            And when a Belief changes, you can just file the old Belief under -Inert- and move on.

            At the end of the campaign you will be able to see where the character has gone on those cards.

            Neat.

          • Re: Written down in front of me.

            Which sparks another idea- you could totally have this interesting scene where characters remember how they used to be vs. where they are now-

            “I remember when you hated my people”
            “I was a different person then…”
            “Naw, you just figured out who you really are…”

            etc.

        • Re: Written down in front of me.

          I’ve been thinking a lot about how we build tools into games.

          Right now, a lot of games work in a very simple way- “This is the Conflict List- look at this list, pick a conflict” etc. kind of stuff. If you get how to use it, it works, but it’s usually ver connect-the-dot-sy kind of way, and if you’re not “on” that night, things could fall apart.

          What I’m looking at is how do we build new tools, or further develop the ones we have to get the right brain to work – so that even if we’re not consciously “on”, maybe the subconscious can pick up the slack or at least drop more inspiration into the mix.

          So list of beliefs? I have to consciously think about which ones connect. Cards of beliefs? I can shuffle them and pull them out- most of it will be random crap, but the human mind is good at drawing patterns and relationships- I might put together two I would have never thought of consciously- so it’s an option if I’m coming up dry on ideas.

        • Re: Written down in front of me.

          I’ve been thinking a lot about how we build tools into games.

          Right now, a lot of games work in a very simple way- “This is the Conflict List- look at this list, pick a conflict” etc. kind of stuff. If you get how to use it, it works, but it’s usually ver connect-the-dot-sy kind of way, and if you’re not “on” that night, things could fall apart.

          What I’m looking at is how do we build new tools, or further develop the ones we have to get the right brain to work – so that even if we’re not consciously “on”, maybe the subconscious can pick up the slack or at least drop more inspiration into the mix.

          So list of beliefs? I have to consciously think about which ones connect. Cards of beliefs? I can shuffle them and pull them out- most of it will be random crap, but the human mind is good at drawing patterns and relationships- I might put together two I would have never thought of consciously- so it’s an option if I’m coming up dry on ideas.

    • Re: Written down in front of me.

      The other part for me, is that if I have the beliefs on cards, I can move them around, put conflicting ones next to each other on the table, move them as the situation changes, or even just to experiment.

    • Re: Written down in front of me.

      The other part for me, is that if I have the beliefs on cards, I can move them around, put conflicting ones next to each other on the table, move them as the situation changes, or even just to experiment.

  3. I kinda feel a bit bad myself, because in the DRYH-Shadowrun game Rich & I are playing in, I wasn’t GMing the right style of gaming. I wasn’t familiar with Shadowrun, so I fell back onto my horror GMing style — not horror tropes, but things I do in particular then running reactive horror games.

    I wasn’t letting Rich be proactive enough, because I wasn’t in my comfort zone with the setting to say “go, do it, I’m ready for whatever.”

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